Social Media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest are meant to be social and businesses that run their accounts in such a way create for themselves a significant advantage over the competition. However, putting together a social media strategy that includes the right mix of sales and engaging messages is tough. There are a variety of factors that make up a great strategy and every business has its own unique goals that must be addressed. It's important to communicate your sales message(s) to your audience but perhaps even more important not to drive them away with such content. The 80/20 Rule can help you get more return for your social marketing investment by acting as a guide for posting content.
1896, Italian Economist Vilfredo Pareto published his findings about land distribution in Italy. What he found was that 20% of the people owned approximately 80% of the land. As he expanded his research into other countries, he noticed the pattern remained strikingly similar. The 80/20 Rule, or Pareto Principle, was developed in 1906 by management consultant Joseph Juran based on the work of Pareto.
The principal was originally applied with astonishing accuracy to economic distribution. Over the last one-hundred plus years, the principle has been adapted and used in a wide range of industries with relative accuracy;
Healthcare - 20% of the people use 80% of the services
Crime - 20% of the people commit 80% of the crime
Sales - 20% of the customers account for 80% of the revenue
Tech - 20% of the most common bugs cause 80% of the software crashes
In Marketing, the concept is that 20% of the advertising campaigns produce 80% of the favorable results. In Social Media Marketing, 20% of social posts should be tied to selling a product/service and the other 80% around non-selling activities; educating, informing and entertaining. This ratio is the basis for the right mix. Of course, quality content is where it all starts.
It's a Guide, not a Rule.
There is no one rule about social media marketing that applies to every business universally. What is perfect for one may be disastrous for another. It's important to remember that 80/20 is flexible and is a starting point, not a destination. The best ratio for your business is the one the offers the most return. At the bottom of the post, I have included some tips on getting started using the 80/20 with ease.
Why is it Important?
People use social media to be social. It provides entertainment, communication, connection and other attractive emotional stimulants. Businesses tend to forget this and bombard people with sales advertisements and other informational content about the business. One of the reasons that video and music streaming services are so popular is because people can avoid commercials and get right to the content they want with a small upgrade. Even those that use these services and have to endure the commercials find it worth the irritation in return for the value that is offered in return; movies, music, etc.
The 80/20 Rule is important because it emphasizes the creation and distribution of content that users will find valuable; outside of sales information. It forces social managers to really focus on their products, their customers and unique & creative ways to deliver a message.
That's not to say that people who follow your page don't want your sales, inventory and other business related content, they do. The 80/20 Rule is not about shunning advertising, but rather how to advertise. The reality is, focusing only 20% of your content on selling doesn't mean you're only selling 20% of the time. Every piece of content you share is promotional. The principle suggest that 80%, as a starting point, come through informing, educating and entertaining.
Wink Fashion and Salon - Red Bluff, CA
From a marketing point of view, one of my favorite Facebook pages to follow is Wink Fashion and Salon in Red Bluff, California. The Wink page is engaging, fun and is geared toward selling with every single post without being all up-in-your-face. We took these screenshots in June/July for some research but Wink has remained consistent in keeping the social in social media marketing.
An attractive woman standing next to a sign with a cute slogan that would appeal to Wink shoppers. The message above the photo is about being grateful, thankful and enjoying your day.
This is not at all a sales post
Wow, that woman has a charming smile --> She looks fantastic in that tank and necklace --> (Insert name here) would love that outfit --> She'd be so happy if I got that for her --> I think I will --> And I don't even have to think about where to get it. Wink!
What's the weirdest thing you've ever found in your purse? There's a question that almost every woman can answer with ease and probably with a pretty funny story. It's an engaging question and based on the 'likes' and comments, got quite a bit of feedback. I'll give you three guesses where you can find those purses...and the adorable clothes these ladies are wearing.
Cute kids, a cool mural that locals will recognize (or maybe want to check out) and a happy dog. It's cuteness overload! I showed my niece the photo and she wants to get a selfie there, with the dog. She's seven. Sixty 'likes' and five shares - apparently I'm not the only one who will be stopping by. Well done, Wink!
Celebrating a big moment is young people's lives in a small community. It's an exciting time; a lifetime of adventure awaits these kids and there's optimism in the air. Wink participates quite a bit in the community and the engagement they receive from this post is people recognizing their efforts.
Wink's social engagement on Facebook is higher than almost all of their competitors and the national average. Their success on Instagram, where they run a similar marketing style, is even greater. Wink clearly puts forth quite a bit of creative effort and should see the positive results for years to come.
Engaged people are great customers and often become loyal brand ambassadors. Sales messages are important but it's social engagement that draws people in, makes them feel a part of something and feeds the relationship between the organization and the customer.
5 Tips for Applying the 80/20 Rule
1. Follow competitors you like and those with a high rate of engaging posts: Pay attention to what kinds of posts get them the most engagement. The least. Watching other pages is time consuming but also one of the best ways to gauge what you're competition is up to and help you sharpen your marketing skills.
2. Follow creative businesses in other industries: You can get some fantastic ideas from businesses that have no relation to yours whatsoever.
3. Keep your non-selling posts relative to the business, for the most part: If you own a non-fishing business and like to fish, it's ok to post pics of nice days at the river, family days at the lake, etc. People actually enjoy seeing what goes on 'behind the scenes.' and it shows a healthy work/life balance. However, don't lose focus. Your account(s) has a job to do, guide it in the right direction.
4. Use 80/20 as a guide not a rule: I mentioned this above but it bares repeating; the ratio that works for you could be 90/10, 50/50 or something else. Just because it works for one business doesn't mean it will work for yours which leads me to tip five.
5. Test, Monitor, Repeat: After you develop your strategy, keep track of how your posts perform. Take a look at what works well for you, what doesn't, and make the adjustments you feel are necessary for a better performing next round.
I've got to get outside. Have a great day!